Hooray, Hooray, it’s Mary Lee Hahn Day!
We’re happy to join the throng of well wishers honoring educator, author, poet, baker and fearless Poetry Friday leader Mary Lee Hahn, who’s retiring from her 37-year teaching career and beginning a brand new chapter in her life!
In Dublin City, Ohio (35 years), and Dallas, Texas (2 years), this extraordinary human being has taught approximately 875 students (4th and 5th graders) under the leadership of 10 principals, 7 superintendents, and 2 curriculum directors, and — *wait . . . for . . . it* — her first students are now almost 50 years old. 😮😮😮
Though I often wish I could have been one of her students, I’ve been blessed with perhaps the next best thing — her fabulous posts at A Year of Reading, where she blogs with fellow teacher Franki Sibberson.
I’ve been a faithful Mary Lee reader since I first started blogging in 2007, and I still look forward to seeing what she’s going to share every week. Whether she’s posting an original poem or the work of another, there’s always something new to learn and enjoy.
Little known fact: I actually got to meet Mary Lee in person at KidlitCon 2009 in Arlington, Virginia. It was only the third kidlit/ya blogger conference of its kind and as a newbie, I was a little starstruck by those whose blogs I loved and admired.
It’s a little surreal after “knowing” someone online for awhile to suddenly see her moving and talking right in front of you. My first thought upon seeing Mary Lee: “Love the cool purple eyeglasses!”
(Of course, everything about Mary Lee is cool, but you probably already knew that.)
After exchanging pleasantries, Mary Lee looked at me intently and asked, “With your blog, what is your process?”
Process? I was baffled. Was ‘winging it’ a process? Now, some 11 years later, I realize that that question is SO Mary Lee. Always curious and interested in how something works, open to new ideas and perspectives, wanting to glean and understand. That’s just one of the things that makes her such a good teacher: she’s a lifelong learner who has a passion for process.
Now, if being a beloved teacher, awesome blogger, and insightful poet wasn’t enough, Mary Lee is also a first rate baker. For years I’d been hearing about her classic from-scratch chocolate cake, and was thrilled when she wrote a poem about it 7 years ago. Not just any poem, mind you, but an abecedarian — which has this alphabet lover swooning to this day.
Abecedarian Cake Love A birthday cake -- decadent, elegant, frosting gobbed high -- I justify knifing loose my notch -- objectify perfection, qualify restraint, savor tastes until... voicing with eXuberance: YUMMY! amaZing! ©2014 Mary Lee Hahn
Yum yum yum yum yum!
Yes, there’s more. Mary Lee (please adopt me) wrote yet another abecedarian about cupcakes, this time blending her baking, poetry, and educator chops to sublime end.
ABECEDARIAN CUPCAKE LESSONS After Baking dozens of Cupcakes this week, I’ve learned a few Life Lessons: Delight in the process as much as the product. Each ingredient is as important as the next. Forget about the clock, Go with the flow, Have fun. Improvise Joyously (and cover your mistakes with frosting). Keep working until the Last bowl is clean and dry and back on the shelf. Measure ingredients with precision, but do Not forget that there are times when Observation is more Powerful than Quantifiable amounts or Results. Stop Tasting the frosting when buttercream becomes Unremarkable. Value your Work enough to make the eXtra effort worth the time You put into the project. Be Zealous, but never a zealot. ©2010 Mary Lee Hahn
Were truer words ever spoken? Baking lessons are indeed life lessons. I guess I’m one of Mary Lee’s students after all. 🙂
To top things off, a final poem by Paula J. Fox which extols the virtues of good teachers like Mary Lee. As Robert Frost once said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” William Butler Yeats offered: “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”
HEART OF A TEACHER by Paula J. Fox The child arrives like a mystery box… with puzzle pieces inside some of the pieces are broken or missing… and others just seem to hide But the HEART of a teacher can sort them out… and help the child to see the potential for greatness he has within… a picture of what he can be Her goal isn’t just to teach knowledge… by filling the box with more parts it’s putting the pieces together… to create a work of art. The process is painfully slow at times… some need more help than others each child is a work in progress… with assorted shapes and colors First she creates a classroom… where the child can feel safe in school where he never feels threatened or afraid to try… and kindness is always the rule She knows that a child can achieve much more when he feels secure inside when he’s valued and loved… and believes in himself … and he has a sense of pride She models and teaches good character… and respect for one another how to focus on strengths…not weaknesses and how to encourage each other She gives the child the freedom he needs… to make choices on his own so he learns to become more responsible… and is able to stand alone He’s taught to be strong and think for himself… as his soul and spirit heal and the puzzle that’s taking shape inside… has a much more positive feel The child discovers the joy that comes… from learning something new… and his vision grows as he begins to see all the things he can do A picture is formed as more pieces fit… an image of the child within with greater strength and confidence… and a belief that he can win! All because a hero was there… in the HEART of a teacher who cared enabling the child to become much more… than he ever imagined…or dared A teacher with a HEART for her children… knows what teaching is all about she may not have all the answers… but on this…she has no doubt When asked which subjects she loved to teach, she answered this way and smiled… “It’s not the subjects that matter… It’s all about teaching the CHILD."
Congratulations, Mary Lee, on reaching this incredible milestone, and thank you for your unending creativity, dedication, kindness, and inspiration for so many — students, their families, other educators, friends, fellow writers, poets, and bloggers.
Good Luck and enjoy your retirement. Can’t wait to see where your journey will take you next. You were born not only with the heart of a teacher, but with the soul of a poet. xo
Now, let’s cut into that Berry Chantilly Cake! Everyone, you’re allowed to eat an extra piece since today is also Christie Wyman’s birthday. 🙂
The lovely and talented Christie Wyman, the birthday girl, is hosting the Roundup at Wondering and Wandering. Zip over there and wish her many happy returns before you peruse the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a good one, Christie!
*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.